The town of Rico is located in eastern Dolores County in the Dolores River valley. Rico is about
48 miles northeast of Cortez and 27 miles southwest of Telluride. Rico is the Spanish word for "rich", and
the town motto is “A Slice of Paradise”. I would guess the population to be close to 200 people. Rico is
a sleepy little town most of the year but summer brings an influx of summer residents and visitors. There
are jeep and biking trails and lots of old mines to discover in the area.
The town was established in 1879 as a silver mining center in the Pioneer Mining District. By 1892, Rico had a population of nearly 5,000 people with 23 saloons, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a bank, a theater, a boarding house, a mercantile, a brick county courthouse, and a thriving three block red-light district. Most of the commercial and public buildings are located on Glasgow Avenue (CO 145) which runs through the center of town. The "downtown section" features several historic buildings, a couple of which are described below.
I visited Rico in August of 2020 and again in June of 2021 and liked the town so much I decided to do this photoessay about it.
The historic Dey Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 15, 1999. It was built in 1892 in a Romanesque Revival style. (The liquor store next door is not part of the Dey Building). It had a saloon on the ground floor and offices on the second floor. The saloon has been in almost continuous operation and operates today as the Enterprise Bar and Grill.
Rico Town Hall
The Rico Town Hall is another building on the National Register of Hisoric Places (added December 31, 1974). The building was originally the Dolores County Courthouse built in 1892 when Rico was the Dolores county seat. Its two stories of reddish-tan brick are built on a raised basement of red sandstone. The window accents are also red sandstone.
Rico Community Church
The Rico Community Church, located at 116 E. Mantz Avenue in Rico, is Presbyterian in denomination. I was fortunate enough to be photographing when the pastor showed up. The pastor (I'll call her Pastor Susie) invited me in for a look-around and also gave me some factoids about the church. It seems the women of Rico felt the town should have a church to offset the saloons, and solicited donations from the good townsfolk to help fund the construction of the church. The cross above the alter was made from material from a local mine, and the women and children sat in the pews on the main floor while the unkempt (dusty) miners had to sit in the balcony. Hope I got all that right.
Atlantic Cable Mine
R.C. Darling discovered this mine in 1878. A lot of silver came out of the Atlantic Cable Mine, but it was also produced lead and zinc ore during World War II. You can read all about the mine on the plaque in the first photo below. That's where I got my info.
Background information obtained from the National Register of Historic Places, Wikipedia, and other on-line sources.
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